Cain Mathema and African identity reaffirmation: I worship Mzilikazi

01 Aug, 2021 - 00:08 0 Views
Cain Mathema and African identity reaffirmation: I worship Mzilikazi Cde Cain Mathema

The Sunday News

Richard Mahomva, pivot
Globalisation continues to be a widely celebrated concept of cultivating universalism. Some sections of the academia, civil-society and governments perceive globalisation as a central unifying phenomenon which is facilitating the natural integration of the people of the world. It is believed that through globalisation markets are integrating to a point that “modernity” is being enjoyed by all.

Globalisation is believed to be a new force for generating ideas which guide the universal standards of democracy and good governance. Proponents of globalisation (universalism) submit that platforms of cultural exchange are also servicing the idea of world solidarity.

Normatively, this unity of the world through the systematic flow of goods and services, information systems, cultural exchange and “modern” political cultures is worth embracing. However, it is then imperative to interrogate if the world could be primarily united through market relations of states. Could the contemporary integration of the people from the Global-North and the Global South be catalysed by their trade relations?

Does this approach to modernity mean that the centuries of Africa’s exploitation by the West must just be forgotten? Besides, why is the thrust of globalisation largely material than it is more preoccupied with out-rightly ending racism and the institutional marginalisation of the “third-world” in international institutions. Again, if world peace is to be secured through international market inter-dependence, the question is, which countries own a larger chunk of global markets?

Could this not be a new method of manipulating the less industrialised to be conditioned to embracing marginality as a justified condition of their global citizenship?

The real starting point to integrating the world towards creating even market relations which translate to international solidarity (as suggested by the principle of globalisation) should be debit relief for African governments. Africans must define their path to how they want to interact in the market place. Our comparative advantage should set the yardstick of how we want to be treated by the rest of world the world.
It is also important to note that the condition to our oppression is not only confined to the political-economy dynamics.

Africa is in a crisis because she refuses innate principles to strive towards self-determination. However, that is reflective of the effects of her invasion, molestation, brutalisation and at the very worst, her Christianisation.

Mentioning Africa’s spiritual massacre through the missionary model is a bitter truth which is rarely tolerated in a world which is increasingly less questioning and exploring why we are what we are today. Therefore, in the same way the world is integrating towards market institutionalisation, faith/belief in God is increasing becoming more institutionalised.

In our case, this can be understood in the manner in the extent to which the institutionalisation of faith/belief in God has fast transitioned from the missionary model to the charismatic worship model, hence today in Zimbabwe we speak of traditional churches and Pentecostal churches. This substantiates the measure to which Christianity has evolved in Zimbabwe.

On the pretext of the constitutionally enshrined ‘Freedom of Conscience’ the growth in Christianity also substantiates Zimbabwe’s adherence to the rule of law. This is further evident of our culture of tolerance — which in itself is a key facet of our Ubuntu/Hunhu.

On the other hand, the massive growth of Christianity at the aid of many factors, particularly the globalisation factor has left local spiritual legacies and histories isolated and, embraced by a few.

Christian motivational literature and devotional material is wiping the space for traditional African philosophy in our bookshops. At the same time, Africanist thinkers are not producing sufficient material for the remnant who have preferred to be consistent and are radically inclined to their ethnic traditions and legacies and the innumerable virtues which define our diverse and strong Zimbabwean identities.

However, a few writers have tried to continue producing knowledge which revives the African soul which is entrapped in the snares of universalism. Pathisa Nyathi has fairly contributed in this area through a wide-range of titles on Ndebele, Sotho and BaTswana history. Dr Chigwedere also tried to trace the mystic forces of our being and how we have been bestowed with the honour to be bearers of lineage names and totems. Chigwedere’s writing articulates how the gift of lineage identities bestows every human-being to be a custodian of the traditions they inherited from their ancestors.

This perspective to awaken the African soul from the trap of self-hate and weakened social consciousness also emerges in Ambassador Cain Mathema’s latest publication, I Worship King Mzilikazi. The book starts off by outlining the history of Mzilikazi — a respected military technocrat in Tshaka’s mighty Zulu empire. The writer also shares a succinct account of what motived Mzilikazi to break-away from Tshaka. Mzilikazi had the following, he had a section of the top deck military wing on his side.

The Nguni exodus which Mzilikazi led resulted in organising this community in transit to table social values which were reflective of their re-establishment not only as a subject mass, but they created reform templates which affirmed their Nguni sovereignty. Mzilikazi assimilated various citizens of other empires through diplomacy, his migration raids and his confrontations with other kingdoms whose territories were passages of the Nguni’s journey.

Finally, the exodus took a pause when Mzilikazi’s Nguni clan settled in the South-Western part of precolonial Zimbabwe. This became the new territory of this exodus power-house, here uMthwakazi was established. A new political order had to be born, a social stratification was the starting point. AbeZansi emerged as the ruling class and were mainly comprised of the members of the Nguni blood-line. This is the group which had governance upon its shoulders.

Next in line were the AbeNhla, these were the assimilated Sotho and Tswana groups during the migration from KwaZulu. AbeNhla were aristocrats in the Mthwakazi Kingdom.

At the base of the strata, there were the Hole, this was the group of the local social grouping which were found by the Nguni when they arrived in the South-West of today’s modern Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Mathema avoids exhaustively and explicitly unpacking the social construction of the Mthwakazi kingdom from a perspective of class which I have deliberately pitched. The impelling reason for this position could be that of foregoing the Eurocentric historiography lens to understanding the condition of pre-colonial Africa.

Colonial historiography has prominently projected ancient African societies as violent and primitive. The class-line construct of white historiography suggests that civil wars were at the centre of African societies’ power dynamics.

Contrary to that dimension which is valorised in the academia (in independent Africa), Mathema submits alternative reason and attempts to depict the solidarity and integration norms enjoyed by both the Ndebele and the Shona. Whilst power contradictions emerged between the Ndebele and the Shona, Mathema highlights how the same ethnic powerhouses were unified by spiritual rituals, inter-cultural ceremonies, intermarriages and the cordial relations of the political figureheads of the time.

This why it was not arduous for the Ndebele and Shona to unite in the fight against imperialism in 1896.

This book clarifies the distorted profiling of African leaders as incompetence, power retention vanguards whose structures of governance were only moulded by missionaries. Mathema highlights the path created by Mzilikazi in nation-building and developing a political order which consolidated self-determination from the migration to the settlement era in present-day Zimbabwe.

While his seemingly “terrifying” declaration to be a worshipper King Mzilikazi may be misread as blasphemy, the euphemism the writer is pitching is that of celebrating a past which was witnessed by a particular generation of Zimbabwean, the Ndebele people in particular. His chronicle of Mzilikazi’s astute leadership is testimony of an unquestionable lived experience of our people. In a way, the book validates the need for us to search deep into the past and see how we came to be.

This position is consistent with embracing how the advent of Africa’s spiritual invasions made us to lose our humanity we are struggling to find in the scriptures. Consequently, the scriptures lead their reader to a culture and an ontological density of the Hebrews and their history. This explains why when we send our supplications and thanks-giving to the cosmos we call on the God of Jacob, David, Moses and Mary. It is forbidden to call on the God of Murenga, Chaminuka, Nehanda, Kaguvi; the God of the Rozvi and Mthwakazi cannot be mentioned in our centres of religion.

Our people are forgetting that before being Christians, Islam, Buddha, Hindu they were bearers of their ancestors’ identities. The swift transition of rejecting the self to fit into universalism is what Cde Mathema is castigating. His new book he calls Zimbabweans, to take pride in legacies of their ancestors and find how our traditional values continue to be relevant in a world that is committed to de-Africanising us. Without doubt, our lineages have continued to be the binding force of our commonness.

In conclusion, this book exposes the struggle between universalism and self-preservation. The African soul is at the cross-roads, but still the path to self-consciousness must be found. Only then will our diversity be a cause of exchanging constructive values of building Africa and not fighting one another.

When we re-assert, reaffirm and celebrate our being we may be fit actors of the globalisation process. We must find ourselves.

Pamberi neZimbabwe.

Richard Mahomva is a political-scientist with avid interest in classic and modern political theory. He also has a distinct passion for the architecture of governance in Africa. He is by and large a literary aficionado. Feedback: [email protected]

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